Opponents of city bypass claim 200 homes could be destroyed
Galway N6 Action Group warns the number of houses lost to new road plan could be almost double figure given by designers
Opponents of the controversial Galway bypass claim designers have played down the number of homes that could be lost as a result of the plans.
The Galway N6 Action Group, which opposes the plans, says up to 200 homes could be destroyed by the road designs - almost double the original figure.
It has also emerged that none of the six routes may be chosen in their present form, with designers admitting they may have to merge a number of routes for the final road.
Colman Collins, of the Galway N6 Action Group, said people were angry at the way the process had been handled.
"We have carried out independent surveys of all the routes. Our experts are telling us the number of homes affected will be double what we have been told," he said.
"Our most conservative estimates range from 142 homes to over 200 homes destroyed by these routes."
The least impact to homes would be caused by the blue route, which the group believe to be the preferred route.
However, it cuts through the NUI Galway campus and amenity grounds at Dangan. The university has been vocal in its opposition to the plans, warning it would put years of careful planning and development "under threat".
Both the red and green routes would affect up to 200 homes, according to the group. The figure was put at around 120 homes by design group Arup. Eileen McCarthy of Arup dismissed the new figures as "disingenuous".
"They seem to be calculating homes within the entire corridor, which is a bit disingenuous to say the least. We took a house count in the design footprint with a buffer and we stand over our figures, which range from 53 to 116," she said.
Mr Colman said the group believed designers had earmarked the blue and green routes as their preferred option, describing the other four as "a smokescreen".
However, this was dismissed by Michael Timmins, senior engineer on the project, who insisted no preferred route existed. He also revealed that several routes may be merged to find the "least damaging alternative".
The new bypass is needed to ease congestion in the city. Communities, politicians and businesses have all raised concerns about the proposed routes, which will cost between €500m and €750m.
Affected communities stretch right across the city suburbs, taking in Barna, Bushypark, Menlo, Newcastle, Dangan, Westside and Terryland, with the university campus and the Ballybrit racecourse also affected by certain routes.
While more than 300 homeowners have received letters informing them their homes could be affected, a total of 4,500 landowners, businesses and homes fall within the possible routes.
Designers have received more than 1,000 submissions, with the vast majority criticising all the proposed routes.
Opponents have asked planners to review alternatives including a light rail system. However, the bypass designers have insisted these alternatives will not solve the congestion problem alone.
"Light rail is very expensive and the density of Galway city is too spread out. You need a city population of 250,000 for it to work and it doesn't solve the problems outside the city," said Mr Timmins.
"Public transport is part of the solution and it is being looked at, but every public transport solution needs additional road span for it to work."
The new bypass will replace a previous plan which was abandoned after it was blocked on environmental grounds by the European Court of Justice in 2013.
All six proposed routes have taken into account rules regarding Special Areas of Conservation and as a result run closer to the city, passing through more densely populated areas.
"Why is the environmental habitat taking precedence over human habitats? It seems a total overreaction to the European ruling," said Mr Colman.
Seventh-generation farmer fears CPO
A FARMER who is the seventh generation of his family to live on their land at Killoughter, Co Galway, has said he will be devastated at the thought of losing his home.
Sean Ryan and his brother Richard would both lose their homes along with those of eight neighbours if the green route is chosen.
"The road would go straight up the middle of our farm and straight through my house and my brother's house next door. I'm seven generations here, this is our home. I don't know where I would go, we don't want to leave this place," he said.
Locals in the area have now put in a submission against the proposal.
"They are proposing a four-lane road with hard shoulder. It would be 150m wide, that's a lot of ground gone and a nice quiet area ruined. It would destroy the village and those villages around us."
The brothers live directly beside a special area of conservation (SAC) which cannot be touched.
"There is heaps of land at the back that is under a Special Area of Conservation for limestone flagstones and bog cotton. They are not going near that but they want to destroy the homes because we're just outside it.
"It's an awful strain. I go to bed at night and get up in the morning and it's on your mind all the time," he said.